Summary: The desire to take revenge is not necessarily sinful, but we must not take our own revenge. Government may do so, but if it fails, ultimately God will take revenge.
Forgiveness is Conditional, Part 3: When The Offender Won’t Repent
Thus far in our series, we have tried to answer the following questions:
(1) Do I have to forgive someone who has not repented? The answer I gave was, "no." God does not forgive those who will not repent, and He is our standard; for further details, get the 2-28-99 tape of that message.
Like God, we must stand ready to forgive when repentance occurs.
(2) Do I have to trust someone who has lost credibility when they repent? The answer I gave was, "no, certainly not immediately." But you need to consider giving the offender a chance to re-establish credibility over time.
(3)Are sins of ignorance more excusable than intentional sins? The answer I gave was "yes." Although we are responsible for all our behaviors, God forbears when we sin in ignorance. But once we become aware of how we sinned in ignorance, we do need to ask forgiveness.
Today’s question has been on the minds of many folks thus far. Okay, Vasicek, if we don’t (or can’t truly) forgive the non-repentant, what are we to do? Hate them? Get even? How do we handle it? Glad you asked.
Main Thought: Life in the real world involves dealing with people who will not repent or apologize for the wrongs they have done to us. The Christian way to handle such situations involves employing several truths.
I. It is Not Wrong to Have Enemies, But We Must ____LOVE_________Our Enemies
NIV Matthew 5:44
44. But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you...
--- Don’t confuse an enemy with a neighbor you just don’t like (the difference is malice)
1. Love myths: (3-4 Greek words)
2. You do not love everyone the same (spouse, child, neighbor, brother, enemy); some forms of love are conditional (I Cor. 4:21)
---how love and emotional distance relate....
3. To Love our enemey is the love of duty, not emotion: NIV Exodus 23:4-5
"If you come across your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to take it back to him. If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen down under its load, do not leave it there; be sure you help him with it.
4. It is basically the golden rule....
5. What about those who are cannot be called enemies, but there is nonetheless a barrier because of unresolved offense?
(1) minor offense, forbearance--let go
(2) greater offense: recognition of distance, cordial but cold
(3) distance can either be a consequence or a manipulation tool
---as, for example, the silent treatment---
II. We Cannot Take Our Own Revenge, But It Is _Okay__ to Want to Get Even; We Must Get Over the Matter in Time by Letting Go in Light of God’s Justice
1. There is a wrong desire to get revenge (somebody crossed me and did something I didn’t like) and a proper desire (somebody did what was clearly wrong, and I or others are suffering consequences of it)
(1). E.g., when you hear of an injustice done on the news....a criminal goes free, etc.., or the Japanese were blaming us for dropping the bomb...
(2) Justice is part of God’s character, and it is part of being in God’s image...OT penalties were not always reform oriented (sometimes) but sometimes were Justice oriented...
NIV Acts 23:2-3
At this the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, "God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!"
(3) The desire for justice and vengence is pure enough to be in heaven:
When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, "How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?"
2. The desire for revenge must be turned over to God
NIV Romans 12:19-21
Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord.On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head."
(1) This is where faith comes in--that every act will be brought into judgment! A source of comfort...
(2) This takes time, it may take wrestling with God (like Jacob), and you may get a joint out of place...
(3) This should results in gradually letting things go....otherwise, you will build a long-term grudge of hatred....